Peter O'Toole, whose fame began with his role as Lawrence of Arabia, died peacefully at age 81 at the Wellington hospital in London following a long illness. Peter O’Toole’s daughter Kate and his agent, Steve Kenis, announced the charismatic actor’s death on Sunday, according to a Dec. 15, 2013, Fox News report.
After Peter O’Toole’s death, his daughter Kate said in a statement that her father had been ill for quite some time.
"In due course there will be a memorial filled with song and good cheer, as he would have wished," Peter O’Toole’s daughter wrote. "We will be happy to speak to you all then but in the meantime if you could give Peter O'Toole the respect he deserves and allow us to grieve privately we'd appreciate it."
In the 1970s, Peter O’Toole had overcome stomach cancer. Over the years, despite health challenges and age, Peter O'Toole continued his acting career until last year when he said, "I bid the profession a dry-eyed and profoundly grateful farewell."
According to a Guardian report, Peter O’Toole commented about his life as an actor that “his career on stage and screen fulfilled him emotionally and financially, bringing him together ‘with fine people, good companions with whom I've shared the inevitable lot of all actors: flops and hits’."
Peter O'Toole was born in western Ireland as the son of a wandering bookmaker. His family was reportedly following horses at the time and moved around a lot. After going to a Catholic school in Leeds, where he learned to read at a young age, he turned into “a teenage boozer, getting into scrapes and fights; wrapped parcels for a living for a while; and tried journalism on the Yorkshire Evening Post. He was told his writing was too colourful. After he and a friend hitchhiked to Stratford-upon-Avon, where they saw Michael Redgrave in King Lear, he knew acting was what he wanted to do,” reads Peter O’Toole’s Guardian obituary.
For many, Peter O’Toole’s talent as an actor was not only based on his ability to enjoy life to its fullest – including his wildness, his drinking and his carefree attitude – but also on his ability to turn acting roles into the most memorable roles of a lifetime.
"If you can't do something willingly and joyfully, then don't do it," Peter O’Toole once said. "If you give up drinking, don't go moaning about it; go back on the bottle. Do. As. Thou. Wilt."
Peter O’Toole, who achieved instant stardom as Lawrence of Arabia, was nominated eight times for an Academy Award including Oscar nominations for "The Lion in Winter" (1968), "Goodbye, Mr. Chips" (1969), "The Ruling Class" (1972), "The Stunt Man" (1980), "My Favorite Year" (1982) and "Venus" (2006).
In 2003, Peter O'Toole was presented an honorary Oscar by Meryl Streep during the 2003 Academy Awards. The engraving on the gold statuette reads: "Whose remarkable talents have provided cinema history with some of its most memorable characters."